Seconds later, Gok was pinned to his throne by a web of vines. They killed his amorous mood at once.
All cynic once again, Gok lowered his eyebrows in mock sadness. “Evangelina, me beauty, did I say something wrong? I thought I was fine in bed, meself.”
“A bit small for my tastes.” Evangelina shuddered, her eyes glowing a brilliant orange. “Let me know if you want him dead, Dragomir. I’ll pitch him off the tower for you.”
“Thanks, Eva. I’ll take it from here. Go change into some armour, you might need it.” Dragomir raised an eyebrow. “Unless you wanna walk around like that some more…? Ah, a middle finger. Okay. Was just asking.”
Ordering one last vine to wrap tightly around Gok’s neck and give him a cautionary tug, Evangelina left. Grabbing the steaming plate of food from the nearby dinner table, Dragomir seated himself in front of the goblin king, leaving a large wet mark on the pristine rug leading up to Gok’s throne. He smelled of swamp, reminding Gok of home.
“Before we start,” Dragomir began, scratching his chin and peering at his meal doubtfully, “how’d she get her powers back? I’m almost afraid to ask.”
Gok tried to shrug. With his arms pinned, it was more an awkward wriggle. “I didna know she’d lost ‘em. Was a witch from day one.”
“Ah. Guess I’ll do some investigation when we’re finished here, then.”
“Aye, ye’d best.” Gok sighed deeply. “So, the party’s over, I take it?”
“Yep.” Dragomir shoved a handful of beans into his mouth. “Fuck me, that’s nasty. You eat this crap? Tastes like goat turds.”
“One o’ my favourites.” Guess she lied about that, too. Bitch. “Do ye think ye’re gonna take over just because ye’ve caught me? One solid bellow ’n you’ll be outed. T’ain’t the best plan in the world.”
“Maybe not. But I’ve got more than that. Mmm, chicken’s not bad.” Dragomir shoved a heap of meat into his mouth and chewed. “I set up some trump cards ‘fore I came up for our chat. Wanna see what I’m holdin’?”
Gok rolled his eyes. “Do I have much choice, lad?”
“Nope.” Dragomir snapped his fingers, and at once a rat appeared on his shoulder, emerging from a pack on Dragomir’s back. “Call ‘em up, little guy.”
The rat nodded, but was otherwise motionless. Gok cocked his head, at first quizzical… but then, over the light tap-tap-tap of the rain on his apartment’s windows, he heard the heavy chugging of an engine. It closed rapidly, and soon the entire tower was swaying slightly, buffeted by some external force. Staring out the rain-soaked front window, Gok caught a quick glimpse of a huge shadow prowling around the tower.
“The fuck is that?” Gok squinted, trying to catch a few details, but the shadow had moved behind him again.
“I’m pretty sure Libby called it the Sky Bitch,” Dragomir replied, almost nonchalant. “She says it’s an ‘airship’. I can’t wait to ride in the thing. You remember Libby, right? My wife? Lotsa sexual harassment the last time she visited you?”
Gok cringed. “Aye. Comely lass. Ye’re a lucky man.”
Dragomir watched the shadow round the tower again before he continued. “She planned to set up a dozen cannons on either side of the ship. Even if she didn’t get ‘em finished, which I bet she did, she’ll have a few ready. Her orders’re to blow some bigass holes in your glass box, here, unless you agree to our terms.”
Gok laughed, but he refused to take the negotiations bait just yet. “Ye might think ye’ve got me over a barrel, boyo, but ye’re mistaken. Fancy flyin’ ship? Pfft. I have an army o’ goblins. ’n this tower’s more stable ’n ye think. We’re at a stalemate, at best.”
Gok thought Dragomir would at least pale, but the man simply took a few more bites of chicken. Tossing a bone onto Gok’s rug, Dragomir shrugged. “Thought you might say that. I’ve got a bit more to impress you, ‘boyo’. Ready for round two?”
Gok cringed. “Round two?”
Dragomir snapped his fingers again, and the rat nodded. Almost at once Gok’s tower swayed dangerously to one side, away from the roving shadow of the airship, tipping the contents of Gok’s apartment over. An old cabinet, a hand-me-down from Gok’s grandfather, smashed through the eastern glass and disappeared into the grey darkness. The tower wobbled a few more times, the foundations creaking so loudly that they drowned out Gok’s frightened squawk.
It took several moments for Gok to find a proper voice. “WHAT THE FUCK? HOW... HOW THE FUCK - ”
Dragomir snapped his fingers yet again, and the vines binding Gok to his throne yanked the throne off of the floor. Twisting around, they pulled Gok’s throne through the nearest window, smashing it wide open and exposing the old king to the cold of the elements. The Sky Bitch, an enormous, floating tub of wood and steel buoyed by an enormous gas bag of a balloon, flew insanely close to Gok as he dangled in midair, the beat of its propellors chilling his bones - yet he could tell at once that it wasn’t responsible for shifting the tower.
The throne tilted, forcing Gok to stare down, straight down, to the base of the tower. There, standing alone in the streets, was a single man. He was clutching one of the tower’s enormous supports, tugging on it like a child tugs on a parent’s leg - only the tower moved every time the man shifted his weight. Pieces of the superstructure were already crumbling away, smashing into the roadwork far below. Even in his terror, Gok thought he saw a brilliant, happy smile aimed up at him.
“HIS NAME’S TRAVELLER!” Dragomir yelled. He was bracing himself against one of the supports holding up the roof of Gok’s apartment, looking a little panicked. “HE CAN BRING THIS WHOLE THING DOWN! TRUST ME! YOU DON’T WANNA FUCK WITH THAT GUY!”
A few moments later, the vines deposited Gok back in his tower. Chilled, drenched, his pants filled, the goblin was on the verge of giving in without further fuss - but the expression of complete success on Dragomir’s face filled Gok with the fire of anger, and with fire came logic.
“Y… y… you wouldn’t…” Gok squealed, straining against the vines. “This… this thing… goes over… ’n… ye’ll… go with… it…”
“And we’ll kill a whole lotta people when it lands, too.” Dragomir nodded. “I know. It’s not the best idea. Not worth the trouble it took gettin’ that loudmouth in here in the first place. But I’ve got something else for ya, too, and this will take you down a few more pegs.”
Dragomir snapped his fingers one last time, and at first nothing seemed to happen. Gok took the opportunity to shiver against the vines, trying to warm himself. He liked the rain just fine, but this experience was a bit much even for a lifelong scout. He was on the edge of warming himself, despite it all, when the door to his apartment opened… and a man with opaque white eyes walked into the room. He was holding a goblin in both arms, the drooping sentry unconscious and pathetic.
Another man followed. He, too, bore a goblin.
And a woman. Another goblin.
Another man. Another woman. Two children. Three teens. Five more men. Ten woman. A dog. All were carrying, dragging, or otherwise detaining, an unconscious goblin. Murmurs from the corridors beneath Gok’s apartment hinted at dozens more people, milling about nervously, perhaps wondering if the man at the base of the tower would accidentally kill them all.
Dragomir moved in close, standing over Gok. He popped one last piece of chicken in his mouth, chewing it thoughtfully as he inspected the king. Gok did his best to return the steely gaze, trying to comfort himself with the knowledge that he’d known something would end his rule of New Gob, but failing. He’d never thought it would all be so… abrupt.
“Your goblins are alive. Every one of ‘em. They’re prisoners, not corpses.” Dragomir spat a piece of chicken fat on the floor. “You’re gonna live, too, as long as you stop fuckin’ around. I need your help with some shit. You help me ’n we’ll get you your kingdom back. That probably sounds good enough that you don’t need to say anythin’, so keep your mouth shut, yeah?”
Dragomir leaned in close. His breath was a mixture of unclean teeth and delicious bird meat. “This ain’t a negotiation, Gok. It’s an order. You’ve just been recruited. You’re an army man. You don’t leave the army ’til I say you leave the army. And if you try, well…”
Dragomir motioned to the roving Sky Bitch, now fully visible through broken windows. He pointed outside and down, to the mighty man at the base of the tower. He pointed at the vines holding Gok in place. Last, he pointed to the rat on his shoulder, and to the humans behind him, blank-eyed and terrifying.
“… you get the idea?”
Gok nodded. With that tiny gesture, New Gob died forever.